Monday February 19, 2018
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Congress demands Vasundhara Raje’s resignation over Lalit Modi controversy

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New Delhi: The Congress on Wednesday demanded Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje’s resignation over allegations that she testified in favour of former IPL chief Lalit Modi’s British immigration application in 2011.

“The Chief Minister has no right to continue in office,” Congress Rajasthan Unit Chief Sachin Pilot said at a press conference in Delhi.

Pilot alleged that Raje helped Modi, who was facing investigations regarding alleged tax evasion.

Pilot said the Congress in the state would hit the streets on Thursday to press for her resignation.

The Congress has been demanding External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s resignation over her assistance to Modi to get travel documents from the British authorities after his Indian passport was revoked.

The Party’s Rajasthan unit on Wednesday passed a resolution at its executive meeting in Udaipur demanding Raje and Sushma Swaraj’s ouster.

“The resignations have been demanded from both of them (Raje and Sushma Swaraj) for allegedly favouring Lalit Modi,” Congress state unit spokesperson Archana Sharma told IANS over phone.

Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s State Unit President Ashok Parnami asked: “Why did the Congress, which was a ruling party both at the centre and in the state, not launch a probe at that time?”

“This clearly shows that the Congress is raising baseless allegations and is engaging in petty politics,” Parnami said.

Raje was hit by a controversy following revelation apparently made in a statement released by Lalit Modi’s legal team.

The statement said that Raje, who was then the Leader of Opposition in the Rajasthan assembly, said she was in favour of Modi’s immigration application but on the strict condition that her name will not be revealed to the Indian authorities.

Raje, in a press note issued by her media advisor, on Tuesday said she knew Modi’s family but was not aware “which document people are talking about”.

In Delhi, Congress national spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said the party will pursue all remedies “legal or otherwise in the matter”.

Quizzed on Modi having named some senior Congress functionaries also in the list of people helping him, Surjewala said: “If Lalit Modi had been helped by the UPA then he would not have been in the situation that he is in now.”

“The senior leadership of the BJP lies exposed for having helped a fugitive wanted by law. Both Sushma Swaraj and Raje are guilty of constitutional impropriety,” he added. (IANS)

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BJP Offers Christians a Pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Is Religious Pilgrimage A New Playground For The Political Parties?

This would not be the first time that India has bankrolled pilgrimages for the Christians. Before this, the government had subsidized the Haj pilgrimage for the Muslim community

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In a country like India, such miscalculated steps could backfire in form of communal rights and the results could be unprecedented. Wikimedia Commons
In a country like India, such miscalculated steps could backfire in form of communal rights and the results could be unprecedented. Wikimedia Commons
  • The political parties (BJP and Congress ) are promising a free trip to Jerusalem for the pilgrimage in the coming local elections of the eastern states of India
  • The Christian population in Meghalaya and Nagaland is almost 75 percent and 88 percent respectively
  • After the Supreme Court’s intervention, the government had drafted the policy to abolish the Haj subsidy in a phased manner by 2022

The Campaign promises during the elections times are quite bizarre nowadays, from “I’ll cut your taxes,” to “vote for me, and I’ll set you free.”

In the coming local elections in the Christian- majority state of Nagaland in India the agenda by the rival BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) and Congress parties are unique: “Vote for us and get either a free or a heavily subsidized pilgrimage to Jerusalem.”

Yes, you read it right. The political parties are promising a free trip to Jerusalem for the pilgrimage. The offer has been put up by the Prime Minister Modi- led BJP for the upcoming elections. Even the local partners of the Congress party are treading up the same path.

Recently, the central government decided to withdraw subsidy given to hundreds and thousands of Muslims for the annual Haj pilgrimage. Wikimedia Commons
Recently, the central government decided to withdraw subsidy given to hundreds and thousands of Muslims for the annual Haj pilgrimage. Wikimedia Commons

The BJP has not made it clear yet if it is offering the scheme to all of India’s Christians, or only to Christians in the northeast, or only to Christians in Nagaland. The Christian population in Meghalaya and Nagaland is almost 75 percent and 88 percent respectively. Nagaland is one of smallest states of India, with the population of just under two million people.

Also Read: Muslim women can now travel for Haj without Mahram

As per the Tourism Ministry figures, around 58,000 Indian tourists came to Israel in 2017, a 47% increase from 2015.

The elections are scheduled for the February 27 in three northeastern states – Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura – later this month.

The AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi also tweeted on the double standard of the government and lashed out at the government for its discriminatory decision, ending Haj subsidy but allowing subsidies to continue for Hindu pilgrimages like the Mansarovar Yatra.

This would not be the first time that India has bankrolled pilgrimages for the Christians. Before this, the government had subsidized the Haj pilgrimage for the Muslim community. But recently, the central government decided to withdraw subsidy given to hundreds and thousands of Muslims for the annual Haj pilgrimage. The government cited the reason for the subsidy withdrawal as they wanted to utilise the funds saved from withdrawing the subsidy for the education of minorities, particularly girls. After the Supreme Court’s intervention, the government had drafted the policy to abolish the Haj subsidy in a phased manner by 2022.

Also Read: Government ends Haj subsidy as part of a new policy

The scheme is a clear cut example of hypocrisy and opportunism, especially considering the cancellation of Haj subsidies. It seems quite contrary, on the one hand, the government is cutting down the benefit scheme for one section of the society and on the other hand, some other community is been offered the same thing. Such moves bring out the double standards of the political parties just for the sake of vote bank. In a country like India, such miscalculated steps could backfire in form of communal rights and the results could be unprecedented.

In 2011, Nigeria also did something same as that of India. For many years, their government financed a trip to Mecca for Muslims, leading to some 42,000 Nigerians visiting the country. But with the change in the government, subsidies have been cut considerably and now a 12-day pilgrimage costs around 2000 dollars. The change in stance has resulted in 78% decrease from 2011.